Surveying Pragmatic Performance During a Study Abroad Stay: A Cross-sectional Look at the Language of Spoken Requests

Keywords: pragmatics, requests, study abroad


This paper documents a cross-sectional look at L1 transfer and L2 contact for learners of English in a UK study abroad (SA) context. The study employed an instructional experimental design over a 6-month period with 34 Chinese students assigned to either an explicitly instructed group or a control group receiving no instruction. Instruction took place prior to departure for the UK and performance was measured based on a pretest-posttest design using an oral computer-animated production test (CAPT). This paper explores the data in two specific ways. Firstly, the request data were analysed at the pre-and delayed test stages (six months into the study abroad period) to analyse the extent to which participants’ reliance on L1 request strategies and language changes over time. Secondly, we measured the amount and type of contact with English which participants reported prior to and six months into the study abroad period. Results show that instruction facilitated development of pragmatically appropriate request language over time, with instructed learners showing significantly less reliance on L1 transfer than non-instructed learners. Contact with English increased significantly for both groups on all measures of language production but not all receptive contact with English. When compared, there was no significant difference between the groups’ contact with English at each stage, suggesting that instruction did not result in significantly more interaction with English during the study abroad period.


Author Biographies

Nicola Halenko, University of Central Lancashire, UK

Nicola Halenko is a Senior Lecturer in TESOL at the University of Central Lancashire. She teaches in MA and BA TESOL courses and is the co-course leader for the BA TESOL with the Modern Languages degree programme. She has been a teacher and teacher trainer in Europe and Asia for more than twenty years. Her research interests are in Applied Linguistics, specifically in second language pragmatics where she has several published papers in international peer-reviewed journals. She is currently working on a monograph with Bloomsbury, Teaching pragmatics in the instructed second language classroom.

Christian Jones, University of Liverpool, UK

Christian Jones is a Senior Lecturer in TESOL and Applied Linguistics at the University of Liverpool. He has been involved in English language teaching for over twenty years and has worked in China, Japan, Thailand and the UK, as a teacher, teacher-trainer and researcher. His main research interests are connected to spoken language and he has published in areas related to this, including work on spoken corpora, lexis, lexico -grammar and instructed second language acquisition. Recent publications include Practice in second language learning(Cambridge University Press, 2018),  Successful spoken English: Findings form learner corpora(Routledge, 2018, with S. Byrne & N. Halenko) and Corpus Linguistics for  grammar: A guide for research(Routledge, 2015, with D. Waller).

Laura Davies, Duke Kunshan University, China

Laura Davies is an English Language Lecturer at Duke Kunshan University's Language and Culture Center. Based in China for over 10 years, she has extensive intercultural management experience in addition to English language teaching, curriculum and assessment development. Her research interests include employability in English language curriculum, sociopragmatics and assessment.

Joseph Davies, Duke Kunshan University, China

Joseph Davies is an English Language Lecturer at Duke Kunshan University’s Language and Culture Center. Over the past ten years Joseph has designed, managed and taught various academic and professional English language courses throughout China. His current research focuses on sociopragmatics, classroom assessment and student needs analysis.